Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at recent Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series Contract Winner Kevin Holland as he makes his UFC debut against top fifteen middleweight Thiago Santos at UFC 227 in Los Angeles, California.
Hometown: Riverside, California
Weight Class: Middleweight
Camp: Phalanx MMA
Career Record: 13-3
Key Wins: Bubba McDaniel, Geoff Neal
Key Losses: Curtis Millender
A veteran of both Bellator and LFA as well as a recent combatant on the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series, Kevin Holland is on a tremendous run having won six fights in a row. Five of those six wins have been by stoppage.
- Excellent size for the weight class
- Solid muay thai base
- Has a lot of variety in his striking
- Conditioning has improved since move up to middleweight
- Questions about finishing ability after he didn’t earn the finish in his contender series bout
- Defensively needs work as he can be hit on the counter
- Struggles when opponents can close the distance
- Takedown defense is not up to UFC standard
- Grappling ability is limited
Offensive Striking: C+
Striking Defense: D
Knockout Power: C-
Athleticism / Speed: C
Offensive Wrestling: D
Takedown Defense: D-
Overall Grade: D+
Matchup against Thiago Santos
An exciting contest is on tap at UFC 227 as Thiago Santos welcomes Kevin Holland to the UFC in a bout scheduled on the night’s PPV card. This is a really intriguing fight as these fighters are strike first and strike often fighters. Despite Holland moving up from welterweight, he’s the taller and longer fighter. Not only is he bigger, but he lands more often at 5.53 significant strikes per minute clip versus Santos’ tally of 4.59. Holland is more of a traditional muay thai striker while Santos comes from a lengthy background in capoeira. Expect an exciting striking match overall that I think will ultimately come down to power. Santos is a much more feared striker because of the power he possesses. Holland is certainly a test for Santos due to his length and creativity, but he doesn’t have the raw power Santos holds. Holland will have his chances in this bout, but it’s hard to see him avoiding the power of Santos for a full 15 minutes. Look for Santos to land flush and then for him to follow up with strikes to finish off the American. Under 1.5 rounds is currently priced at -160 which is a bit outside of range. Holland may be the underdog, but he can certainly win this bout. To pull off the upset, Holland by Knockout is priced at +590 and is the best prop price available on this bout.
Kevin Holland is a strong striking prospect. He’s got excellent size and length for the weight class. Opponents will struggle with his striking prowess as long as his bouts are on the feet. Holland will need to improve his grappling and takedown defense to force opponents to stand with him. If he can make those improvements, he has the potential to be a top 15 fighter in this division.
Check out Kevin Holland in some of his most recent fights:
Kevin Holland vs. Bubba McDaniel
Kevin Holland vs. Geoff Neal